If your intestinal tract seems sensitive to everything from stress to large meals, you may have a condition called irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. IBS is characterized by frequent adverse abdominal reactions, such as cramping, constipation, gas and upset stomach, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Remedy some of your symptoms by adopting eating habits that are gentler on your stomach.
Fiber may help reduce constipation, but it may also cause you to experience more gas and cramping, according to MedlinePlus.com. Limit your intake of foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, and slowly increase how much fiber you consume over the span of a few weeks. This way you will be able to assess how much you can eat to reduce constipation without adding to cramping and gas. You may find that you need to strictly limit your intake of dietary fiber and take a fiber supplement instead. Ask a doctor or dietitian to recommend a supplement to you.
Create a food journal, noting what you eat when and adding comments when you are experiencing abdominal distress, recommends the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. You may discover that one type of food tends to cause more problems. For example, if dairy products upset your stomach, you could be lactose intolerant. Talk to your doctor about how to limit your intake of the triggering milk sugar, says the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other common triggers include chocolate, dairy products, tomato-based products, sugar-free sweeteners and fatty foods.
Drink water regularly throughout the day, at least until you are not thirsty and your urine is light yellow or clear. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which tend to stimulate the intestines and make diarrhea worse, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Carbonated beverages can cause more gas problems, as can drinking beverages through a straw.
Portions and Frequency
Eating large meals may cause you to experience more diarrhea and cramping, so eat six small meals throughout the day rather than sticking to the regular three, recommends the American Academy of Family Physicians. Eat meals at about the same time every day to regulate bowel movements.
Bland Diet For Special Circumstances
You may be advised by your doctor at some point to go on a bland diet, which gives your digestive system time to rest and heal. If you have continual heartburn, indigestion or have had stomach surgery, a bland diet may be in order. MedlinePlus.com explains that a bland diet involves avoiding spices, fried foods, high fiber foods, alchohol and caffeine. Eat soft foods such as custards, cooked vegetables, applesauce, oatmeal, breads with soft, refined flour and soups. Avoid raw foods, nuts, seeds, foods high in sugar and foods high in fats. If you are instructed to go on a bland diet, speak to your diet about what foods you should eat that may be specific to your condition.
Using anti-diarrheal medications and laxatives in large amounts or too frequently may lead to physical dependency. This means you may have trouble with normal bowel movements without using medication for regulation. If you do have to use a medication, use the lowest dose that helps, says Columbia Health, as these medications can cause dependency with long-term use. If you need to take an anti-diarrheal, take it about 20 to 30 minutes before a meal.